As the ongoing parenthood debate about screen time for kids rages, I’m finding it harder to suppress the thoughts that keep cycling around my brain: I – and many others I know – largely grew up on TV. We are all ok. We don’t have language problems, or behavioural problems as a result of screen time parental control. Do we?
I think the thing here though is to look at the parenting advice and thought on this subject relatively. OK many in my generation DID grow up with a lot more TV; BUT we were also to be found bumbling outside a lot more, getting physical, running around in the then safer streets, spending hours looking for bugs and so on. So maybe more TV back then was OK. Because it was better balanced out by other activities which promoted being active and imaginative?
These days, as everyone keeps on harping on about in the media, we lead a far more sedentary lifestyle as a population, kids included. And so maybe with that in mind, it is not OK to be watching so much TV because I guess there is not enough physicality and social interaction during the day to offset it. And we all know little ones need to burn off steam otherwise…uh oh…KABOOM!
It’s true, little ones might not be getting as much exercise today, however many are parented in a much more hands on fashion than many of my generation were, when we were just left to get on with it – it seems most parents I know spend far more time making things and doing things with their little ones, not to mention taking them off to various playgroups and soft play, which I never had the pleasure of doing when I was my daughter’s age.
So when you look at TV relative to everything else little ones are doing these days, how much more time they are generally spending learning or doing things like craft, then perhaps in those circumstances, we need not be so militant about how much TV they watch? However, if they are literally plonked in front of TV with nothing else to offset screen time, then clearly there will be ramifications of being passive in this way for too long as reported in the media.
I must admit, I myself do try to keep TV/screen time at a minimum in our household – no more than 1 – 2 hours a day which just so happens to be in line with the overall recommendation of 1 – 2 hours (but really, is set by my own common sense). However, I have to say I do see the benefits of TV for providing stimulus and learning possibilities within an overall framework of an engaging toddler life.
Little ones can’t go and see everything out there in the world for themselves at this age, and of course while books provide a fantastic way of doing this, age appropriate TV does too and I am amazed at how much language and understanding of objects and concepts my little one has picked up in her limited screen time. I have also noticed it has been a good way for her to cement and connect the dots on what she may have already learnt.
I am of course no specialist or academic in this area, but guess the upshot is, I don’t think TV is all that evil so long as it is age appropriate, and in the right dose. It certainly serves its purpose, has its benefits and quite frankly, sometimes needs to be used when things need to get done around the place or when our kids are frazzled from a busy day it can be a great way of winding down for a while. I wonder whether perhaps we have gone a bit too far with all the worrying? Perhaps a more sensible approach would be to keep it all relative within the framework of an otherwise stimulating life?
What do you think – is this TV/screen time anxiety gone too far? Do share your thoughts in a comment….